Congratulations! You are our startup's first Scrum Master! What's next?

location_city Bengaluru schedule Mar 28th 01:30 - 02:30 PM place Esquire Hall

Do you fancy playing the first Scrum Master of a startup?

Do you want to live the challenges faced by the first Scrum Master of a startup?  Do you feel that your organization is dramatically different from the 'ideal' organizations, which the Agile workshops project as a basic requirement for doing Agile development?  Do you wish to deliver predictable results while your management is on-the-way to make your organization 'Agile-ready'?  This tutorial is just what you want.

In this tutorial, you will experience the life of a first Scrum Master of a twenty member startup, which has expansion plans.  Each of the audience will put themselves in the Scrum Master's shoes and try to solve the challenges posed by the ever-changing environment, while the company's management is putting its best efforts to make the organization 'Agile-ready'.  In this interactive tutorial, a gripping story-line will drag you into the world of uncertainties where you would be challenged to take life-changing decisions regarding your product team's daily work.

Even if you are not in a startup, this tutorial would benefit you because everyone still comes across ad-hoc situations which go against the ideal expectations of Agile world.


Outline/Structure of the Tutorial

  1. Introduction - 3 mins
  2. Characteristics of an Ideal Agile Organization - 4 mins
  3. Congratulations! You are our first Scrum Master! - 10 mins
    1. Our Organization Structure
    2. Our Team members
    3. Meet our Product Owner
    4. You can ask us anything except...
  4. Activities (Series of situations where Scrum Master is required to respond, keeping the restrictions of the organizations in mind) - 30 mins
    1. Challenging Situation - 1*
    2. Analysis of responses to Situation - 1
    3. Challenging Situation - 2*
    4. Analysis of responses to Situation - 2
    5. Challenging Situation - 3*
    6. Analysis of responses to Situation - 3
    7. And so on, until Challenging Situation - n
  5. What did we learn? - 4 mins
  6. The journey continues - 1 minute
  7. Q & A - 8 mins

* Situations will be revealed at the time of tutorial (Surprise element :D )

Learning Outcome

For Scrum Masters

  1. An experience of taking life-changing decisions during the storm.
  2. An idea of how to excel even when the organization does not yet have an ideal Agile-ready setup.

For Organization Heads/Owners

  1. The view of one's own world from the eyes of a Scrum Master.
  2. Ideas on how to support productive decisions during transition to Agile.
  3. An idea of what complaints to expect from your first Scrum Master

For Agile Team Members

  1. An experience of challenges in an aspiring-but-not-yet-agile team.
  2. Undertanding of importance of clear communication

For Product Owners

  1. An understanding that first Scrum Master role is as challenging as the first Product Owner's role.
  2. Ideas on how to support positive changes inside organization to make an awesome product.

Target Audience

Scrum Masters, Agile developers, Product Owners

schedule Submitted 5 years ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • Joel Tosi
    By Joel Tosi  ~  4 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Vivek,

       Thanks much for the submission.  I'm struggling with the exercises and what the takeaways are.  The exercises are 'do something, talk about it' then repeat.  What are the situations?  How are they formulated?

    The learning outcomes are a bit fluffy.  What do you mean by 'ideal Agile' team?  What are life-changing situations?

    Help me understand that a bit better please.




    • Vivek Ganesan
      By Vivek Ganesan  ~  3 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Joel,

      Thanks for the feedback.  

      The entire session will be on the pretext of the following assumptions, which are true for many startup organizations. 

      1. The organization has not been using Agile methodologies until now, and wants to do Agile development from now.
      2. The audience is expected to wear the hat of the very first Scrum Master of the organization.
      3. The Scrum Master is not for the entire organization, but for a single team of 7-8 members.  Other teams have their own Scrum Masters appointed newly.
      4. Each team has dependencies on each other, which are not very easy to define.
      5. The entire organization has a single Product Owner, who determines the features of the product.
      6. Owing to poor planning and high pressure, prior to your joining, the employees of the organization have been working even at odd hours and weekends to make the deliveries happen.

      The organization is on-its-way to Agile and is not already Agile.  It does not have the features of an ideal agile organization like

      1. Less possibility for transfer of members between teams 
      2. Has well groomed product backlog
      3. The team members generally do not work over the weekends

      My usage of "Not an ideal Agile organization" was to denote the difference between the current organization and the organization, where one "takes for granted" the above features.  May be I am using it for lack of a better term.  I will try to reword it to sound less confusing. 

       With this pretext, audience will be presented with a variety of situations where they have to make a decision. 

      For example, one situation could be the following.


      You, the Scrum Master and your team are all set to plan for the first-ever sprint of your team.  As per your request, the Product owner has conducted an initial backlog grooming session and now you have a sizeable backlog with features of approximately similar complexity.

      The Product owner, as he enters the meeting room, enthusiastically asks a question directed to the team members  - “Guys, how many features are we going to build in this sprint?” 

      You know it is too early to answer the question now.  Yet, you purposefully do not want to stop the team member from answering that question. 

      As you observe, the team member says, “During the last two weeks, we finished 5 features.  But, I see from your enthusiasm that you are expecting more this time, since we have Scrum and all.  Let us not keep the expectations high.  Why not start with the same expectation of 5 features?”

      Another team member joins, “Yes, I read somewhere that most teams set extremely high expectations in the first sprint and then lower the expectations to a practical level only later.  Let us target for what we achieved last 15 days, that is 5 features, and then gradually increase our efficiency in the coming sprints, as we learn.  However, we will leave no stone unturned to put in our best efforts so that we deliver what we committed for.”

      Now, you realize that an implicit goal is passively propagated from one team member’s psyche to the psyche of other team members, similar to lobbying.  After a few seconds of thought, all the team members agree to the same.  Remember, you are not “officially” in the planning phase yet.  But, how you react in this situation matters a LOT for what is going to happen in the planning meeting. 


      What will you (The Scrum Master) do in the current situation? You could do either of the following.

      • Applaud the way the team handled the question and start the Sprint Planning meeting.
      • Suggest the team to “try” setting a higher goal this time and then adjust the goals in the next sprint if it does not fit.
      • Suggest the team to set a lower goal this time and then adjust the goals in the next spring if it does not fit.



      Analysis of Responses:

      This question’s response has the potential to change the team’s or perhaps, the entire organization’s work culture.

      In the above situation, not interfering would actually help the team because you are letting the team organize in its own way and if they are wrong, they will know it during the next retrospective and change.  However, you have an additional piece of information, which many people did not take into account: The fact that they worked during weekends and odd hours previously is forgotten totally.

      More meritorious decision is to “lobby” for less than 5 items, citing the fact that the team has less number of days when compared to last period because, you do not plan for the team to work during the weekends.  This is just because of the resolve that they are committed to “leave no stone unturned” to deliver what is committed for.  However, the team has the final say on the number of items taken.  Just making the team aware of the fact that they are not planning to work during weekends, makes the team arrive at an informed decision.

      In short, the organization culture developed as a result of this first sprint depends heavily on your response.  If you do not respond, it might lead to the “work during the weekends” culture.  This is a "life-changing" decision, as the stress and job satisfaction of the team members some way or other depends on the way you react now.


      This is just one situation.  If you would like to see the list of situations in my mind, please let me know.  I will spend some time this week to draft the list of situations and send them for your review.

      Hope this clarifies your doubts.

      Thank you.


      Vivek Ganesan